OK, you asked for it. Well, maybe you didn’t ask for it, but I’ll tell you anyway. After almost 60 years, I’ve retired.
Of course, my wife Clare would ask, “How can you tell the difference?”
Hey, how many kids were forced to work in the salt mines when they were 13?
In a way, it was my own fault. There was what we called a frozen custard stand for lease on the busy Boston Post Road that summer. We lived in suburban New York, well over 100 miles from Boston, but the Post Road ran from New York City to Boston. It was well-traveled even before the Revolutionary War.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a frozen custard stand is commonly branded a Dairy Queen out here. When we learned that Custard King was available for the summer, my two older – now late – brothers and I begged my parents to take it over for us.
We were losing money immediately, so our parents thought my middle brother and I should work longer hours to reduce costs. Not only longer hours, but with hardly any days off.
After about a month and a half, I had accumulated the $75 I would need to buy one of the first transistor radios. It was AM only, since there was no FM at the time. Try and imagine what $75 is in today’s money – somewhere between $500 and $1,000.
My spending habits started early, and I never slowed down. I had a little more money to waste starting two summers later, when I got my first job on Wall Street. I had Wall Street jobs for the three summers during high school.
How long ago was that? Well, women who worked in the Wall Street area wore nylons that had seams in the back. Many of the women wore gloves, as well. Since it was summer, it was common to see the men wearing straw hats. One summer, dress Bermuda shorts with a coat and tie were worn by many of the male brokers and bankers.
Today, we’re getting overseas news virtually immediately. Back in the late 1950s, there was a delay of hours or days, which translated into a premium in the financial world on news-gathering. If you wanted to know what the stock market was doing while trading was still going on, you called – or should I say “annoyed” – your broker or at least his secretary.
I say “his” because it was very unusual to find a woman who was a registered broker. In fact, one of the first in the business, a distinguished woman named Muriel Siebert, died just last weekend.
I have to admit that, as I write this column on my laptop, that I’m distracted by scenes of the Yosemite, or Rim Fire, on television. One of the worst in the modern history of the Sierra and, as they say on the news – “no relief in sight.”
Just think, if I had taken one of many public sector jobs in California, I would have retired 17 years ago, drawing a decent pension, perhaps with health care coverage the whole time. Is it too late to become a city manager?
Bud Stevenson, a former stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at Bsteven254@aol.com.